Thursday, 26 February 2015

Eternal Recurrence

According to Heidegger, the entirety of Nietzsche's thought can be encapsulated in the paradigm of Eternal Recurrence. 

Can I live my life as I've lived it over, and over again without changing anything? Can I incorporate the thought that when I die I'll be born again, not into a new life, but to the same life countless times over?

Eternal Recurrence is a test of fortitude and gratitude for one's life as it is which will differ hugely according to how much one loves or loathes one's condition. And the human condition varies greatly from the most well-off right down to the victims of hideous torture and poverty. 

Eternal recurrence, truly accepting it as one's lot, is designed with one purpose in mind: freedom from revenge, Rache in German, that is, the desire to punish and humiliate where there has been suffering and more broadly, the will against time rooted in past suffering. That is to say, Revenge occurs when a part of oneself is held hostage by the past preventing release and future growth.

Eternal Recurrence also forces us to learn from our misfortunes and difficulties and not let them be an argument against life. In other words, Eternal Recurrence forces us to learn to reinterpret our errors and mistakes, our difficulties and the injustices we've suffered in a positive light so as to accept them and move on all the wiser for it. 

For Nietzsche mankind so far is incapable of Eternal Recurrence which is why he posits the ideal of the superhuman which takes Eternal Recurrence as its law. Do and understand everything in a way that is bearable for all eternity. 

Arguably this is why "truth" holds little value for Nietzsche. Perception is everything. As I noted in my blog post on depression (which is a quote from Star Wars, Episode One)

"Your focus determines your reality."
Truth must give way to growth, to the will-to-power, and can represent an obstacle towards eternal return if it claims to be absolute and universal thereby denying perspectivism, i.e. a multiplicity of perceptual realities given at any one time. In other words, one must choose a truth for oneself that makes eternal recurrence as a thought bearable for all time.

There is another side to the thought of Eternal Recurrence which is fiercely conservative in nature. It is best encapsulated in an aphorism in Nietzsche's posthumous work
 The Will to Power, according to which if there were an ideal state of humanity at large, it would have been reached by now. 

History repeats itself again and again, with no purpose or end in sight, other than sheer becoming. Becoming for the sake of becoming. Being for the sake of being. There is no answer to the question "for what?". And, according to Aldous Huxley,

"The most important lesson to draw from history is that people do not learn from it."
Personally I have no problem with the thought that there is no hidden teleological meaning to life, to suffering, to joy. Existence aims only at existence. I find that comforting and that's also why organised religion has no appeal for me as it invents in my view nonsensical reasons and purposes where there is no need for such reasons or purposes. 

Being is enough. 

And good enough. 

Being and time are my religion.